The news follows an announcement by Red Hat earlier this week that it too would offer a free version of its cloud computing platform. Red Hat's and Rackspace's offerings help users build private clouds based on the OpenStack software code, while VMware is offering a free trial version of its vCloud software, which allows access to public cloud resources.
The moves signal an effort by cloud service providers to entice businesses that may have virtualized environments to expand to a public or private cloud, one analyst says.
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VMware officials say they are hoping to lower the adoption barrier for its customers who are interested in expanding from an on-premise virtualized environment powered by VMware to a public cloud service offered by one of the more than 150 VMware-certified public cloud vendors. Through the swipe of a credit card on the vCloud portal at VMware.com, customers can launch a vCloud Service Evaluation, public cloud instance of Linux virtual machines that are hosted by a vCloud service provider that the company does not disclose. VMware announced the service today and it will be available in the coming weeks, says Joe Andrews, director of product marketing for vCloud Services. The VMs cost $0.04 per hour per gigabyte of memory.
VMware has not had this "instant gratification," says Gartner cloud analyst Lydia Leong, which has resulted in some VMware customers who want to experiment with public cloud services to do so at competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. "This is a basic offering that doesn't really have any bells and whistles, but is a reasonable way to get the 'feel' of a VMware cloud," she says, noting that it's not meant to be a formal proof-of-concept evaluation tool.